Work-associated health issues
We have all experienced it; a growing back pain, tingling in the arms, higher tensions in the neck that occurs at the time of work or worsens from specific positions demanded by our work environment. Consult your problems with us in time and prevent them from developing further!
Whether you work at a desk or in manual construction, work-related health issues is a growing concern in our modern population and many prevention strategies and interventions are being slowly introduced. For instance, in some countries such as the UK, Australia and United States, there are workplace health programs and evaluations regularly carried out to resolve some of these issues. Research has shown a high percentage of lost work productivity because of pain-related problems of employees. More frequently employees are quitting jobs because of chronic pain problems and in comparison to those who don’t suffer from such symptoms, they are twice more likely to ask for absences. There’s increasingly more evidence available to support the effectiveness of integrated return-to-work programs and its cost effectiveness.
A term used by the international centre for disease control and prevention, is “Work-related musculoskeletal disorders” (WMSD). The term defines any disorder and pain syndrome which is greatly influenced by a work’s environment or where the issue persists longer because of certain work conditions.
The most common work-associated musculoskeletal problems are; low back pain, non-specific
neck and shoulder pain, repetitive strains and over-use injuries to soft tissue like sprains and tears. Other problems may not necessarily affect muscles but the psychological state of the person in the form of, for example, anxiety or depression. All these conditions alter our work performance and may affect our ability reach our full potentials. We also tend to get sick more frequently and use more work absences unnecessarily because of chronic pain or even a very decreased motive to work.
One may think that office jobs may not be included under this umbrella, however it is as risky as other manual labour jobs which may have higher chances of getting injured. However, office jobs may just as well leave you more vulnerable to over-use injuries and postural problems that may last a very long time, especially in those who already experience symptoms and aren’t in a good physical condition. Sitting for long hours behind a computer, talking on the phone or writing emails means that there is a less chance of changing your body position and moving around, which would at least potentially stretch out your spine from time to time. Majority of jobs however demand people to stay in rather fixed positions for long periods of time and this, along with continuous repetitive movements and forces, could strain our joints and muscles. Eventually, our postures become affected and we start to compensate by wrongly over-using other parts of our body. Once our ability to compensate becomes compromised then we have already developed a bad posture habit and may suffer from pain.
How do we prevent it?
Ergonomics. Ergonomics is defined as a science of fitting work stations and its conditions to the job demands according to the capability and needs of the target group/person. Its goal is to decrease stresses that come with overuse of muscles and repeated tasks. This may be changes in design of the workplace, doing job rotations (to allow for change of positions more frequently), team support and help, change of certain tools and equipment to allow for better postures, e.g. use of standing desks, ergonomic mouse and adjustable computer screens. to name a few.
Ergonomics provides many ways to tackle and prevent issues from developing, however for symptomatic people or those who have already developed a musculoskeletal issues, it isnt sufficient to just change routines at work, but to also be involved in a program of active rehabilitation that includes some physical activity, physiotherapy and may or may not include cognitive behavioral approach therapy. A combination of these have a positive effect on coping with stress as well as increase work motivation, decrease work absences due to pain and overall work performance improvements.
At Bebalanced, we support a “stay fit for work” theme and offer specially designed programs for firms and its employees. These programs include workshops at the company alongside work station evaluation and ergonomic advice, as well as physiotherapy treatments in individual or group forms as part of a prevention strategy from common work-associated postural problems.